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June 03, 2013 4:31 PM Desperately Seeking Disrupters

By Ed Kilgore

National Journal’s typically insightful Reid Wilson published a column today that seeks to make a bit more concrete the widespread talk that Republicans chances of retaking the Senate next year could be frustrated once again by Tea-Party-driven divisions that create difficult primaries and/or produce less-than-stellar general election candidates. Running through some of the impending races, Wilson notes four (WV, SD, AK and GA) where “ugly” primaries could produce weak nominees in states Republicans ought to be able to win. But there are nine purple or purple-leaning states (IA, CO, MI, MT, MN, NH, OR, NM and VA) with Democratic seats where no top-tier GOP candidate has emerged.

Reid seems to be suggesting that good GOP candidates in purple states are being discouraged by the possibility of “ugly primaries” if they run, and that’s probably true. But that possibility may also depend on whether self-conscious ideologues at the state and national level succeed in recruiting a new batch of Sharron Angles and Joe Millers and Christine O’Donnells into 2014 Senate candidacies.

In that connection, you might want to glance at a post from RedState’s Erick Erickson, fresh from his defense of patriarchy on Fox News, noting the kind of candidates people like him are actively seeking going into his “community’s” annual meeting:

This year will be the 5th RedState Gathering. We will meet the first weekend in August in New Orleans, LA. Five years ago we introduced the nation to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Michael Williams, Ken Cuccinelli, Karen Handel, and more.
In 2010, we worked hard for Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ken Buck, and others.
This year I am struggling to find good, disruptive candidates to challenge the established ways of Washington. The 2012 defeat, which some of us had predicted back in 2011, has gone exactly as I thought it would. Good candidates have turned their backs and gone to focus on their families and what’s left of their businesses.

Right now it’s the shoes that have yet to drop—on both the “Establishment” and the Tea Party fronts—that will probably determine the GOP Senate landscape in 2014. But another few months of Scandalmania ‘13 and “vetting” of the president may well give the “disrupters” fresh inducement to run.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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